I recently organized a deadlift competition where we utilized a specialized setup featuring custom-fabricated bar extenders attached to a deadlift bar. Thanks to these custom extensions, the bar was extended to a length of 10 feet. This design resembles the rare Arsenal Athletics Mammoth Bar and is similar to Rogue’s Elephant Bar, specifically designed to accommodate more strongman athletes attempting to pull over 1,000 pounds.
I will make an effort to clarify the purpose and usage of this unique bar. However, I anticipate that despite my explanations, some individuals on the internet will still struggle to grasp the intention and instead focus on how unconventional, ineffective, dangerous, or nonsensical this bar might seem. It’s a common phenomenon that the internet tends to dislike what it doesn’t understand. While I’ll do my best to explain, I’m aware that there will be as many critics of this bar as there are of block pulls, rack pulls, sumo pulls, wrist straps, and deadlift bars in general.
The question that often arises is whether this elongated bar makes it easier to lift heavier weights. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that the increased length of the bar does make the initial lift off the floor somewhat easier. However, it also introduces a new set of challenges. The greater flexibility of the bar can disrupt your balance, especially when breaking the plates off the ground. Furthermore, the added instability can make it more challenging to maintain a solid lockout. Most of these difficulties are encountered by individuals who haven’t specifically trained for this unique type of deadlift. It’s a different and exciting challenge, which is what makes it such a fun and demanding variation of the deadlift. For spectators, it’s often more thrilling to witness a 1,000 lb flexible and bouncing deadlift compared to a rigid 800 lbs deadlift. Personally, I appreciate all deadlift variations and am always up for a unique strength test.
Now that I have your attention regarding this bar, if you stick with me for a few more minutes, I will provide additional information about deadlift bars and their popular flexibility.
Historically, most bars didn’t exhibit much flexibility, or if they did, it would lead to permanent bending of the bar, a situation I’ve encountered a few times with lower-quality bars from China.
Don’t worry; I won’t delve into a detailed history lesson on deadlift bars. Instead, I’ll highlight some basics so you can become well-informed on the topic and perhaps even develop a deadlift program to share on TikTok.
In essence, stiffer power bars have less whip (flexibility or bendiness), allowing athletes to generate higher levels of force throughout the lift. This enables explosive lifts with greater maximum loads and force applied to the bar. Combine this with excellent technique and consistent attention to weaknesses, and you have an athlete with a robust deadlift using a stiff bar. So, what does the increased flexibility of a bar accomplish? Primarily, it reduces the range of motion, allowing for a more advantageous leverage point. This benefits athletes who may struggle with lifting off the floor, enabling them to achieve a more explosive deadlift without addressing their weaknesses directly, especially when initiating the lift. However, this increased flexibility can also present challenges at various points in the movement, depending on the deadlift style and when maximum force is applied to the bar. The flexibility can be seen as an advantage or disadvantage, depending on one’s perspective. What remains fundamentally true is that your strengths are determined by your consistent training regimen and use of preferred equipment.
The standard rules of deadlifting apply to many of these bars, regardless of how flexible they are. The lifter must pull the bar from the floor to a fully locked-out top position. Once the legs and body are locked out and motionless, with the shoulders pushed back, a down command will be issued. The lifter must maintain control of the bar as it is lowered to the ground; dropping it results in a failed lift.
The exciting development we introduced to the internet this past weekend is an exceptionally flexible bar. Once again, it’s a matter of perspective whether this makes things easier or more challenging, but I find it generally makes things easier. Personally, it had been a couple of decades since I lifted over 700 pounds without the assistance of blocks, a rack, or a bar with some degree of flexibility.
My most recent officially sanctioned deadlift competition occurred in 2021 at a USPA meet. During this event, I achieved a California State (raw) Deadlift Record of 639.3 pounds in the Masters 45-49, 308 class category. This marked my highest official competition deadlift and my highest conventional deadlift from the floor in my lifetime. You can verify this record on OpenPowerLifting.org.
Since that record-breaking lift, I haven’t attempted to lift more than that in a gym or at a sanctioned competition from the floor. I won’t delve into the specifics here regarding why that is the case, but I can assure you that I have plans to lift even more in the near future. Of course, I intend to lift more on various deadlift variations involving different bars and heights.
While I don’t anticipate this explanation will fully satisfy the most determined internet trolls, I can confidently say that I’ve done my best to explain. Now, go ahead and post your best deadlifts, and don’t forget to tag me!